Sunday, January 22, 2006

Murder, She Dreamed

At 11:45 pm my cell phone rings, but I've been asleep for fifteen minutes and fumble for the house phone beside my bed before I realize the noise is my cell, also by my bed.
"Hello?" I ask.
"Hi, this is Kim. Your mother is frightened. She says someone is going to murder her. Could you speak with her?"
I thank Kim, one of the two night caregivers at Ocean View, and agree to talk with my mother.
"Hi, Mom. How are you?" This is how I open all conversations with her.
"I'm scared to death! There's a note under my bed that says they're going to come back and murder me. I have to escape."
"Mom, there is no note under your bed."
"Yes, there is! You just ask Emily. I told her about it, and she knows."
"No one is going to murder you."
"Yes, they are--because of what I told Emily. I was spread-eagled on the bed and I screamed and my mother came and she divorced him, but they're going to come back and murder me."
"Okay, let me talk to Kim."
"Who's Kim?"
"The nice lady who is with you."
"Kim, where is my mother? Did you have to bring her out to the dining room?"
"Yes, she's out here with us but she's very frightened. She's shaking."
"Okay--I'll be right over."
Mom has gone over two weeks now without a personal caregiver at night, and the two Ocean View people in charge of the whole floor of 28 residents have never yet called me at night. They have just dealt with whatever problems my mother has had in the wee hours of the morning, so I know they wouldn't call for a minor event. I want them to know I will come when needed. It's just ten minutes away.
Because I was already planning to be there at 6 am (to provide care whenever she wakes up, dress and take her to breakfast, and take her to church), I decide to spend the night. Sunday is always my day to be the 6 am to 2 pm caregiver.
As I'm pulling sweatpants over my pajamas, I explain to John. He doesn't complain (at least we went to see a film, New World, this evening between my trip to her room at 6 pm and this call now).
At Ocean View, I find Mom sitting in her wheelchair in the dining room quietly sipping tea. One of her dolls is propped before her on the table. Kim and Toni are talking with her.
"Aren't you spoiled, sitting here sipping tea at midnight!" I comment.
She laughs. She knows it's true.
"She was upset," explains Kim. "She sat up in bed, and when I arrived, she was getting out of there."
"Did the Posey alarm go off?" I ask.
"Yes, " says Kim. At their recommendation, I had bought an alarm to place under Mom's mattress pad. When she sits up, a loud beep begins, transmitted to the caregivers by the Motorola walkie-talkie.
"She was shaking, just sitting here. She was so scared."
"Mom, you were just dreaming," I tell her. "You have an illness, Lewy Body Disease, that makes your dreams seem very real to you."
She thinks about that. She has heard me say it before.
"Okay, let's go back to the room," I conclude. "Thank you so much."
In a quieter voice I tell Kim and Toni, "I'm going to spend the night because I have to be here at 6 am anyway."
Back in her room, I start to take her to the toilet and discover that she's wearing a loose bathrobe but no nightgown.
"Why are you just in a bathrobe?" I ask.
"I took off my nightgown," she says. "I was going to catch a cab to get to your house."
"You want to keep your clothes on if you're doing that," I argue, but I know it's pointless to do so.
After toileting, Mom gives orders on the nightgown. "No, not that one. It's too short. They're all getting ragged, but you don't take me shopping."
It's almost 1 am. I find and remove one that is ragged, but my patience is wearing thin. I get the gown on her.
"Okay, let's go to bed," I say, pushing her wheelchair to the bed.
"No--there's a note under the bed!" she cries out.
"There's nothing under the bed!" I yell.
"Yes, there is--you just look! Do you see that?"
"There's a light blinking--it's your surge protector," I sigh wearily.
Somehow in another ten minutes she is in bed, surrounded by pillows and the safety bar, with a soothing CD on her CD player.
I don't tell her I am spending the night. I don't want her to think I will run over and spend the night every time she imagines something.
I get the futon out and settle down to sleep.
She sleeps soundly until 7:30 am. I am grateful.

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